Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Attempt, Final Thoughts And Results (Defender World Record Saga - Part Five Of Five)

What was I thinking?

This year, Josh Jones and I decided to make a marathon record on Defender a reality. 

On Friday night (November 15th, 2013), Josh and I were up pretty late getting the machine wired up with cameras and the laptop set up with the online streaming. We didn't get it perfect, but it was getting late, so Josh said he'd get it set up. I went to sleep. 

Saturday morning (November 16, 2013), I was supposed to get up at 9:30am and get started at 10am. Well, I got up at 7:30am and I could not convince myself to go back to bed. It was like Christmas! I checked on Facebook and saw that Josh had posted that he had gotten the stream up and working, so I figured... let's get started. 

My marathon record team mentors all had suggested that I should get started as SOON as possible after I awakened, so I went and told Josh that I was ready to start. He wanted to get breakfast and shower! WHAT?!? We worked out a plan so I could get started at 8:30am, and I started rolling. 

My wife, Jacque, had spent weeks putting things together behind the scenes to surprise me with all sorts of cool things. Almost immediately after beginning, events began to unfold that I was not expecting. Friends and family members came by, phone calls of support came in, and a local television station sent over a reporter to do a piece!
Still Standing. That's my son, Matt sitting. :)

As the day began, it was me against the machine with Josh in the room. He and I were certain that we were going to make the 80 million distance. No problem. Most of my thoughts surrounded how much faster than 80 hours could I complete this? 

I was recording scores that were higher than one million an hour in all of my regular play, so I was hoping to get finished well before Tuesday evening.

Just into the first day, my friend Jenny Bendel came over and at some point started calling out the wave completions. This started out funny and cool, but as the game reached the end, it was something that actually grounded me quite a bit and made it feel like I was REALLY saving the world. Seriously

Yes, sensei
These numbers were collected by my new sensei Todd Rogers during play, while he watched over the interwebz. THANK YOU TODD!!

Started at   --- All times are noted in EST time.--
 930a[EST]      0 11.16.2013  
1023a   1,000,000 1hr  (53m)
1116    2,000,000 2hrs (53m)
1210p   3,000,000 3hrs (55m)
 108p   4,000,000 4hrs (58m)
 2xx    5,000,000 5hrs  [
 3xx    6,000,000 6hrs  [ I was watching not tracking time]
 4xx    7,000,000 7hrs  [
 558p   8,465,600 8.4hrs
 650p  10,000,000 9hrs  (52m)
 745p  11,000,000 10hrs (55m)
 830p  12,000,000 11hrs (45m)**Fastest 1 million
 922p  13,000,000 12hrs (52m)
1025p  14,000,000 13hrs (1h 3m)
1125p  15,000,000 14hrs (1h)
1218a  16,000,000 15hrs (52m) < 11.17.2013 EST Sunday>
 114a  17,000,000 16hrs (56m)
 213a  18,000,000 17hrs (59m)
 314a  19,000,000 18hrs (1h 1m)
 416a  20,000,000 19hrs (1h 2m)
 518a  21,000,000 20hrs (1h 2m)
 618a  22,000,000 21hrs (1h) **Playing sloppily
 724a  23,000,000 22hrs (1h 6m)
 829a  24,000,000 23hrs (1h 5m)
 933a  25,000,000 << 1Day(1h 3m)
1039a  26,000,000 25hrs (1h 6m)
Bio break =
loss of ships

**Wave 0 Potty break -8 men (1 min) 

1144a  27,000,000 26hrs (1h 5m)
1246p  28,000,000 27hrs (1h 2m)
 144p  29,000,000 28hrs (58m) {Losing men where its visable}
 256p  30,000,000 29hrs (1h 13m) {struggling to keep men * wave 256 saved him}

3:01p Wave 0 Potty break

 404p  31,000,000 30hrs (1h 8m) recovered men
 509p  32,000,000 31hrs (1h 5m) * 530p low on men again
 614p  33,000,000 32hrs (1h 5m)

 705p  33,644,725 32.35hrs << FINAL SCORE >>>>

Tracking the time for each million is a great way to judge how long the entire 80 million will take. I was trying to get way ahead by beating a million an hour all the way through to shave time off the end. Anything would have helped. 

I don't even remember two potty breaks. I thought there was just one. Shows what I can remember.

Focus, grasshopper, and
take it easy on the buttons
Todd, whom I started calling my sensei, came to my rescue through the final hours by reminding me (over and over) to focus on the game. He was totally right about my play around the 30 million point. I started struggling and never caught up. Just too mentally exhausted and, although I didn't know it, my hands / wrists were not working worth a damn.

Apparently I need to take it easier on the buttons if I'm going to try this again. Each and every move should be purposeful. No finger wiggling between waves, either. It all adds up to tendon damage over that much time.

After 32.35 hours of continual play, I was defeated by the machine. The entire experience was completely unreal. 

This was the best gaming experience of my entire life, bar none. The support and seriousness with which everyone treated it was absolutely phenomenal

Thank you all!

The fact that we hit our charity's funding goal is just amazing. Now I have to start shipping out some rewards!! 

I am writing this on December 8, 2013. My wrists still hurt. I can still feel the stiffness in my trapezoids. My back is in good shape; I was crazy about posture. 

My son made origami numbers to indicate the million
count, which does not appear in the game
because there aren't enough digits
World Marathon Record Score on Defender: 33,644,725 at www.Recordsetter.comIt is also listed there as the longest marathon on Defender and the most points on Defender.

Here is the criteria of this submission: it is the Highest score on Defender that has been Verified, Refereed, Publicly Viewable, and was witnessed by multiple record keeping entities. 

PLUS you can watch it online any time at

HUGE DISCLAIMER: I understand that there are higher scores on Defender at other scoring entities. This is just where things stand right now with Record Setter.
The man, the myth,
THE Walter Day

Since the beginning of arcade gaming, THE place to have your records tracked has been Twin Galaxies. They have kept and managed records since the 1980s. They have been included in many movies and documentaries, such as King of Kong and Chasing Ghosts. Please look up the MAN himself, Walter Day, because HE is the true champion of video game records. His legacy cannot be underestimated. And he is one of the nicest people I have EVER met.

The mystery and mystique of those records and record holders has spawned a whole subculture of arcade record attempts as well as people that question those old scores. 

Many scores from "back in the day" have been questioned for decades and in some cases have now been matched or beaten and are now being recognized for the accomplishments that they had always been

Not enough of these
Some records have been completely debunked as well. 

The issue comes down to one question: how do you authenticate a record that was never physically "recorded?" The answer is YOU CAN'T! This makes weird controversy and winds up hurting people's feelings. I have been surprised by this in many ways, and I'm still wrapping my head around it.

For me, all I can say is that the score I set is viewable and was refereed. It does not matter to ME if my score is the highest in the record books; it is the highest score I have ever recorded. 

Copyrighted by Video Games
Dale is the MAN!
So who knows if those scores in the 1980s were real? Who cares if they weren't? Not me. 

I'm SURE an 80 million score is possible. Did those gamers really push the limits of human endurance and pull it off? Seems plausible to me. We were all young and full of piss and vinegar. If I'd have tried this in the 1980s, I'd bet I could have played 80 hours. At least I want to believe it.

The one historical score that has the most "proof" is the one of Dale Rees. He logged in a 40 hour score of 42,335,225. Truly epic. 

I think I might be able to pull that off once my hands get better. Who knows? Can 80 hours be done? Let's see who can get there first... again(?). 

First order of business - post marathon? Vegan Pecan Sandies!

Want to read each part? Well, here's your chance!



  1. Love it man, whens the next one?

    1. When the pain subsides, I get playing for a few hours a day, and can take off work again!

      My tendons still hurt! They say 3 months off of whatever's hurting you is best.

  2. It was awesome being there for it. Thanks a ton for having me. Next time, you and I will have to sit at a table and conversate like normal folk =)

  3. My friend that is a massage therapist came over tonight and JUST worked on my wrist tendons.

    She said that within 2-3 days, the tendons that were hurt after my marathon should have been worked on, because they will tighten and become more difficult to stretch. She likened it to tightening gauze, because once they get tight, you have to work hard to loosen them up again.

    SHE IS RIGHT. They are tight as hell and uncomfortable right now.

    Obviously I should have done something about this earlier, but now I have the info and the knowledge of what to do.

    My job now is to warm up my sore tendons / muscles and slowly stretch them. Ideally I should have a therapist work on this with me, but I just can't, so I am going to do the best that I can.

    Thought I should post that new information!

  4. Last year, my friend Josh Jones, who was my referee on this record, passed away on Dec. 10, 2015.

    There is NO way I would ever have even tried this without his encouragement, his drive, and his full involvement.

    Josh could be a pain in the ass, but his heart was ALWAYS in the right place. He and I talked all the time and we worked out a lot of each of our issues through those calls. He got me in touch with the most amazing people in the gaming community and his leadership opened many doors not just for me, but for many people in the gaming community.

    Josh believed in the goodness of everyone. He pushed me to succeed.

    When I finished this marathon (due to my body giving out without my approval), he cried. He wanted me to go the distance of 80+ hours.

    Josh was a hero.

    I am SO glad that I had the opportunity to know him. My inner child finally reached one of his life goals because of him.

    Josh, I love you.

  5. 270 - Arcades in US
    80 - Arcades Canada

    Thousands of home arcades

    That's confirmed this is the Titanium era!

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  7. Reading this and watching your vid of the last hour or so is a real treat I quit my high score at 5,000,000 and kept scoring a million in front of peers and was hailed as the master of Defender in 83. I was just 15 and loved the accolades. I did however gain a lump on my right wrist, but who knows how that happened I was an avid BMX freestyler with my own ramp and a portable 1/4 pipe for shows. That could have been where or perhaps another way anyhow it's gone and when my home is built I'm putting a really nice home arcade together in the spirit of the SPOT my favorite arcade back in the golden years of video games. Funny but it seems there are new arcades popping up. There are 80 arcades in Canada now. And over 270 in the US I think we can call this the titanium era of video games. Plus there are hundreds to thousands of home arcades around the world.

  8. I do love that we see so many arcades! There is a dark side, though. We are running out of machines. You can help, though.

    Ask them how they repair their machines. Do they fix them or just buy new ones?

    We're running out of machines. We need to PRESERVE them.

    Thanks for your awesome story. My friends did BMX back in the say. I think we lived parallel lives.